KINGSTON, JAMAICA – December 17, 2020 – It is with a heavy heart that Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, mourns the passing of Jamaican-Canadian community icon Denise Jones. A beloved entertainment producer, philanthropist and advocate for Caribbean arts and culture, Jones passed away at home in Brampton, Ontario earlier this month at age 64.
“I was extremely saddened to learn of the passing of community icon Denise Jones, and I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to her family, friends, and members of the diaspora community across Canada,” said Minister Bartlett. “Ms. Jones was a visionary in the music and entertainment industry and a passionate champion for Destination Jamaica. She will be remembered fondly as an inspiring businesswoman, humanitarian and community activist, and her legacy will leave an impact on generations to come.”
Born in Portland, Jones began her career in the performing arts as a local stage actress in Jamaica. She moved permanently to Canada in the early 1980s with her husband Allen Jones and the duo went on to create Jones and Jones Productions, now one of Canada’s leading music promotions, management and marketing companies.
During her impressive career in the industry, Jones’ love of Jamaica and her desire to promote the destination on a global stage was always at the forefront of her work. In 1993, she founded Reggaebana, a seven-day music festival featuring some of the finest names in Reggae from Canada, Jamaica and across the globe. From there, Jones and Jones Productions launched the internationally recognized JAMBANA, One World Festival. Since 2003, the diverse cultural celebration has served as a premier showcase for Caribbean reggae and soca performers and has positioned Jamaica as a must-visit destination for music lovers. JAMBANA attracts thousands of attendees each year as one of Toronto’s top summer festivals and is the second largest Afrocentric cultural event in Canada.
A strong advocate for Jamaican culture and reggae music, Jones served the founding chair of the Reggae Category at Canada’s prestigious Juno Music Awards. She also received a Juno Award of her own and was presented with a lifetime achievement award from the Urban Music Association of Canada for her contribution to the development of the Canadian music industry.
In addition to her many professional achievements, Jones was dedicated philanthropist committed to giving back to the Jamaican diaspora community. She was a long-time member of the Jamaica Diaspora Canada Foundation and served as a founding board member of the Helping Hands Jamaica Foundation (HHJF) for almost 15 years. Through her tireless work with HHJF, she helped to build more than 20 schools in Jamaica, providing children with much-needed access to education in the country’s most vulnerable communities.
“The Jamaican community in Canada is devastated as we mourn the loss a great cultural icon,” said Angella Bennett, Regional Director, Canada, Jamaica Tourist Board “Denise Jones was an exceptional leader within the community and beyond, and she touched the lives of so many individuals here in Canada and Jamaica. She will be deeply missed by all of us at the Jamaica Tourist Board.”